Are you up for the challenge?

HP Labs joins the ACM 2009 Multimedia Grand Challenge to address the sector’s most pressing needs

February 2, 2009 -- If you work in multimedia research, researchers in HP Labs have a challenge for you. “We need to have a better experience in printing web pages,” says Dr. Qian Lin, director of HP’s Multimedia Interaction and Understanding Lab. “Approximately a quarter of all the pages we print at home come from the Web,” she says. "We can save paper by only printing what people are interested in getting on paper, for example, news articles, maps, coupons, etc."

So how do you sift the material you want (a news story, perhaps) from the ‘auxiliary’ content (like a graphic advertisement or navigation aids) that you find on the same page? Data-mining applications already do a pretty good job when it comes to finding the most relevant text, says Lin, but multimedia content has proven much harder to sort.

“That’s why we’re asking the research community to create a robust solution that can identify and extract the ‘informative’ multimedia content for any arbitrary web page,” Lin explains. “Ideally, we’d like a solution that’s over 99% accurate for any web page of any language.” The HP Labs challenge is one of a half dozen devised by industry leaders such as HP, Google, Yahoo!, Nokia and Radvision, for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.

The challenges were announced jointly this week by the ACM as their ‘Multimedia Grand Challenge 2009.’ Authors of the top submissions will be invited to demo their work at the ACM’s international multimedia conference in Beijing this October.

“Having a competition like this,” says Lin, “is a great way to generate new ideas and find new approaches to resolving the most important questions that the industry faces over the next 2-5 years.”

You can find more details about the HP challenge – titled “Robust Identification of Informative Multimedia Content in Web Pages” – posted at, along with submission guidelines and information about the other challenges for 2009.